Lists!

Posted in 1 on January 7, 2010 by Legalize

Hey, it’s only 6 … no 7 days into the new year.  2009 is long gone.  But the mediocre year in music will live with us forever.  Seriously.  Forever.  I compiled my list of my favorite 30 records of 2009.  30 because 30 is what I listened to.  I c0uld have gotten to 50 or so if I counted albums I listened to like one time on Lala.  Didn’t count the one-free-listen joints.  Here they are:

1. The Horrors – Primary Colours

In what I would calla down year, the Horrors hit all the spots that make me feel good: shoegazey like My Bloody Valentine; psychy like Spacemen 3; cool as shit like the Jesus and Mary Chain; and nervy like Joy Division.  I’m a simple man with simple pleasures.  Pretty hooked form the first listen of “Sea within a Sea.”

2. Japandroids – Post Nothing

Two cheeky bastards from Vancouver pining about when all they worried about were the sunshine girls and French kissing French girls with we hair.  Now they’re worried about dyin,’ but they don’t give a fuck, ’cause your style is such a mess. So rockin’; so unpretentious; so pointed.  Hooked from the first listen.

I just summarized the whole record.

3. Metric – Fantasies

Almost a perfect re-Wave record.  Every song is close to perfect.  It’s pretty perfect.
4. Band of Skulls – Baby Darling Dollface Honey

I think other than Anna, I’m the only person who really loved this one.  Winner of the 2010 Black Mountain Award, for giving back that throwback to the 70s feeling.  A lot of people had a problem with the total lack of identity the band brings to the blues-rock thing.  All the songs sound different.  But they are held together with tight play and a great range between the co-singers: a guy and a gal.  Come on; they’re  a band with “skulls” in their name.
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

I’m very biased.  YYY could sing along to the phone book and I’d praise them.  Total electro-punk-wavey record with plenty of childish snarl.  It’s YYY but they’re doing rock stuff with non-rock devices.

6. Surf City – s/t EP

So cool.  Surf punk in black leather jackets and heroin hangovers.  From New Zealand.  Looking forward to their full-length in 2010.

7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – s/t

These guys sound so much like Ride and Teenage Fanclub.  Really great piece of nostalgia here, but I wonder if they can keep it up without getting tediously throw-backy.  There’s not a lot of room to grow with the 90s sound they glommed on to.  Hell, Ride and Teenage Fanclub each had one or two good records, and then even they gave up that sound.

8. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Why there are Mountains

A roadtrip with Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, and Pavement.  But without having to listen to Malkmus bitch about all the shitty bands he hates.
9. Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Not a fan of Doves.  This record is a bit too long, and with Doves, that’s not a good thing right off the bat.  However, they really embiggened their sound and focused on diversifying their songs.  Yeah it’s about three songs too long, but I never skip any of them and always listen to it loud.  It’s good, yo.
10. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm

Yeah.  Shut up, that’s why.

11. The Joy Formidable – A Balloon Called Moaning

Would have made my top ten but I figured that if I never bought the record, it wasn’t fair to skip over any of the others.  I would have bought it but you can’t find the fucker anywhere.  All I could get were five or six songs from Myspace.  Really big guitar rock with a female singer and Metric-y pop styles.  They end most of their songs with big rocking messes.  I like that.
12. Bear in Heaven – Beast Rest Forth Mouth

A bizarre and pensive proggy thing that I would normally never go for in a million years.  But this one got me and I really can’t tell you why.  Well, it sounds great in the car, which is huge.  And it is sometimes druggy and psychy, but not alot.  I don’t know.  I just turn it up.
13. Girls – Album

Wow.  Left field.  A record about a dude being bummed out about losing his girl.  Like really bummed out.  And affecting this Elvis Costello thing.  Really bad news as far as I’m generally concerned.  But after repeated listens, one song after the other grew on me, until I became a fan.  If it had come out earlier in the year and I had gotten more listens, it would have been higher.  Same with Bear in Heaven.  Two total surprises in a year with not many of them.
14. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls

Scotts.  Really driving, straight forward wall-of-sound rock with a pounding beat.
15. White Denim – Fits

Such a strange sound.  Almost jazzy.  Stongly rhythmic.  But with that psych rock thing that keeps it all together.
16. A Place to Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

Another initial disappointment, but a total grower after repeated listens.  Jesus and Mary Chain – check.  They’ve got that thing down no doubt.  Still, they can do better and should do better next time.


17. The xx – s/t

Animal Collective is so pissed that these guys stole the “it” status this fall.  Folky, poppy, hooky, goovy, and sparse as hell.  Turn it up and you’ll feel it, but not hear much of it.  That’s the way they like it of course.
18. Raveonettes – In and Out of Control

Again.  Shut up, that’s why.
19. Cold Cave – Love Comes Close

Another interesting one.  If you squint you might make them out to be Joy Division.  Or New Order if New Order weren’t wankers.
20. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Whatever.  Couldn’t be ignored.
21. French Miami – s/t

There was never a shortage of Wire around when these fellas were getting in to music.  We’ll see where they take the one minute, 30 second post-punk thing.
22. White Rabbits – It’s Frightening

Hi, the guy from Spoon produced our second record.  Do you like Spoon?  Cool, ’cause that’s what were going for.
23. Pink Mountaintops – Outside Love

See, another one I never bought.  Should have.  But didn’t.  Steven McBean’s best work outside of the first Black Mountain joint.  Sounds like it should: a folkly version of Black Mountain without any of the nerdy flutes or references to wizards and shit.  Still pretty nerdy though.
24. Silversun Pickups – Swoon

Whatever.
25. YACHT – See Mystery Lights

Not LCD Soundsystem.

26. Tom Waits – Glitter and Doom Live

I listened maybe twice.  Maybe three times.  It’s Waits.  Like giving Al Pacino the Oscar for Scent of a Woman.
27. The Soft Pack – The Muslims

Probably should have been higher, now that I think about it.  They’re releasing a proper record that hopefully would sound like it was recorded in a pillow case.
28. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Yeah.  28th.  Suck it.  Three awesome songs.  That’s it.
29. Glasvegas – s/t

I don’t even remember.
30. Wavves – Wavvves

I liked this no-fi thing.  Except when I hated it.  I don’t know; it stuck with me and I stuck with it.  “Songs” about vampires and zombies and pot smoking skate kids on the beach have some appeal.  No what I’m saying?  Don’t worry about it.

Promises, Promises

Posted in 1 on October 29, 2009 by Legalize

Ok, so I promised to describe what, in my not so humble opinion, is “wrong” with the new A Place to Bury Strangers record, “Exploding Head.”  That’s the album cover right down there:

Above: Clap Harder!

The problem is not so simple.  The problem is that you can’t listen to the thing anywhere except your car, or maybe out in a field somewhere.  Work?  Not unless you want to get fired.  Home?  Not unless you want your neighbors to hate  you.  iPod buds?  Please.  Thing is, there’s not enough sound for how loud the thing is.  And in this case, loud does not make it better.  It just makes it louder.  Don’t get me wrong; there are more than a couple really good songs.  But gone is the melody-under-distortion-made-famous-by-Psycho-Candy sound of the first joint.  It’s just gone.  The Jesus and Mary chain got more melodic as they went along.  And then BRMC buried them for their efforts.  APtBS has gotten less melodic, and what you have left is a heavy, industrial effort akin to early Ministry.  Which is fine.  But not if you are trying to appeal to indie rock nerds.

That said, I suspect that a  lot of indie rock nerds will dig “Exploding Head” just fine.  For one reason, the band’s indie cred is already well-established, and even being in a car commercial won’t change that (as we’ve seen amply).  For another, the dreaded P4k told them not to.  That would normally be reason enough, but I wasn’t in the mood this time.  I still like it.  Technically it’s solid.  It’s tight.  It’s arranged like a proper rock record.  But what is “correct” about the record is ultimately what is also “wrong” with it.  Gone is the anxiety and holy-shit-ness.  With a titled like “Exploding Head,” I would expect a crime scene, but all I got was CSI-style effects.

This on the other hand:

Above: the best record you don't own

The release by Austin, TX’ (yes, I know) White Denim – “Fits”.  Just too fucking good, yo.  I don’t feel like talking about it; just listening to it alot.  Maybe I’ll give “Exploding Head” another listen.

 

Baseball, Bitches

Posted in 1 on October 16, 2009 by Legalize

This:

Above: Win.

Above: Win.

That is all.

UPDATE: Except for:

Above: The Devil Incarnate

Above: The Devil Incarnate

Add it all up …. Your team lost.

Bringing the St00pid

Posted in 1 on October 8, 2009 by Legalize

It’s often difficult to avoid these stories, even on a dumb music blog no one reads. But this is so fucking stupid it must be repeated wide and far. In fact, it already has. I’m a slow blogger:

There I was, sitting in Reagan National Monday morning, sipping a Starbucks by the United counter before going through security. I had a little time, so I was browsing through the news. Some military guys had borrowed a chair from my table. I looked up from time to time to enjoy the sun streaming through. That’s when I saw Bill Ayers, an instant blight. Scruffy, thinning beard, dippy earring, and the wirerims, heading to order. I gathered my things, got my camera ready, and snapped a shot right when he got his coffee.

I asked–what are you doing in D.C. Mr. Ayers?

For a moment I thought he might be on my flight back to Chicago. Charming. Initially I guess he thought I was laying claim to his coffee or something. He gave me an uneasy cheesy smile when he realized I was taking his picture. I asked him if he was speaking at GW? (Only I said GFW, guess I had the VFW on my mind) He said oh you mean GW, he said no…was trying to decide if I was a fan, then said he was giving a lecture in Arlington to a Renaissance group on education–that’s what I do, education–you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about me, you know nothing about me. I said, I know plenty–I’m from Chicago, a conservative blogger, and I’ll post this. (Oh, yeah, Bill Ayers, quite the Renaissance man, nail-bomber extraordinaire. Gee, I see another friend of Barack, U.S. Sec. of Education Arne Duncan was there too. “The conference theme is “A Time for Reflection, Celebration and Rebirth.” How touching. At best, useless, at worst, so wrong.)

Then, unprompted he said–I wrote Dreams From My Father. I said, oh, so you admit it. He said–Michelle asked me to. I looked at him. He seemed eager. He’s about my height, short. He went on to say–and if you can prove it, we can split the royalties. So I said, stop pulling my leg. Horrible thought. But he came again–I really wrote it, the wording was similar. I said I believe you probably heavily edited it. He said–I wrote it. I said–why would I believe you, you’re a liar.

He had no answer to that. Just looked at me. Then he turned and walked off, and said again his bit about my proving it and splitting the proceeds.

But the question remains–is Barack Obama a fraud? Is his myth-making creation and only major accomplishment a product of Bill Ayers’ imagination? (or his own) Is our President Barack Obama’s biography written by an unrepentant domestic terrorist?

Perhaps I’ll become Bill Ayers’ favorite conservative blogger and he can prove his authorship himself–turn over your notes Bill. And how about turning yourself in for your crimes.

I remember that era, Mr. Ayers. People died because of your actions, including your girlfriend. More would have if you had been more successful. And yet you have the gall to teach the teachers of our young. I won’t forget your murderous intent, your shameful acts, your contemptible lies and evasions. And when history is written, I hope you’ll be reviled–or forgotten.

As for our President, the verdict is still out. But Barack Obama called Bill Ayers friend and colleague for years. That in itself makes a damning statement.

Now that confessing stuff appears to be quite the rage, I admit it. I wrote the Brothers Karamazov. Especially the Grand Inquisitor part. I wrote that twice actually. Pay me.

In other news, this week catches me listening to stuff I like and stuff you’ll like if you like likable-enough stuff:

This:

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Phoenix - "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix"

I know; it took me all year to finally listen to the whole thing in one sitting.  That one sitting has turned into about 15 sittings in the past week.

And this:

The xx

The xx

Another one I was skeptical about until hearing all the way through in one sitting, in my house – not in the car or at work.  Doesn’t work in the car.  Doesn’t work at work.  The xx are for right after you wake up and start cooking breakfast for two.  Loudly, but not loud loud.  Like Breakfast with the Beatles loud.  Folky.  Electronic.  Hooky.  Sparse.

And this:

The Raveonettes - In and Out of Control

The Raveonettes - "In and Out of Control"

The Raveonettes always look like they are supposed to sound.  This one is not so Jesus-and-Mary-Chainy.  More girl-groupy, with enough moments of noise to keep the whole thing legitimate.  Catching them with the Black Angels on the 24th at the Southgate House – the midwest’s Mercury Lounge.  But bigger.

And this:

Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love

Pink Mountaintops - "Outside Love"

Stephen McBean of Black Mountain fame takes some time to clean up.  Not a contestant for this year’s Black Mountain Award, but a shoe-in for this year’s Carpenters-Meet-Pink-Floyd Award.  Ok, so it’s not that much more differenter than Black Mountain.

Tune in next week when I figure out what’s wrong with the new A Place to Bury Strangers record.

Lists, Bitches

Posted in 1 on September 30, 2009 by Legalize

So, the dreaded P4k has this thingy going on with Haagen Dazs where you tell them your 5 essential records of the ’00s.  You can win some Haagen Dazs or something if you participate.  Here are mine in no particular order:
Queens of the Stoneage -

Wilco -

Dandy Warhols -

Arcade Fire -

LCD Soundsystem -

Speaking of LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy, or someone purporting to be James Murphy has left the following on Facebook:

record: march. tour: after.

If this is true, it’s certain to make a lot of aging hipsters happy (including this one).

Trouble Finds Me at No. 5

Posted in 1 on September 24, 2009 by Legalize

America is watching and listening.  Positions 1 through 5 of my 2009 top 20 list appear to be rock solid.  Barring a tremendous late entry by A Place to Bury Strangers or the Black Angels, it’s all over except for the crying ….

…. Except for position No. 5.  Will it be:

Band of Skulls “Baby Darling Dollface Honey”

Band of Skulls Baby Darling Dollface Honey - Contestant for the 2009 Black Mountain Award

Above: Contestant for the 2009 Black Mountain Award

Or

The Horrors “Primary Colours”

Above: If Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine had goth babies

Above: If Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine had goth babies

??

The Horrors sounded smashing with the windows rolled up in the car today due to oppressive rain. Right now I anticipate more trouble from this record, i.e. will it invade the seemingly snug surroundings of my ever so smug top 4? If I were my top 4, who for sake of their own protection shall remain nameless, I’d be sweating. Knowing my proclivity for both Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine, the 4 better not hope I hear additional notes of the Jesus and Mary Chain on up-coming shitty days. And let’s face it, there will be more than 1 dreary day between now and my arbitrary cut-off date of December 15.

On the other hand, the Band of Skulls, being a contestant for the 2009 Black Mountain Award have quite a bit going for them. While 2008’s would-have-been winner, er, Black Mountain, didn’t quite crack my top 10, the BOS have too much range to be left out.

Xmas in October

Posted in 1, Music nerdery on September 22, 2009 by Legalize

Easy like Xmas morning